by Dave Mudge

The landscape architect asked me if I would be interested in refinishing some iron panels that had become rusty. I asked him to describe the panels to me, but all that he could say was that they were 10' tall and roughly 3' wide. I asked if the he knew if the panels were cast iron or forged. He couldn't say but told me that the panels had birds and squirrels and little critters. Cindy & I met the landscape architect John Mayronne and he took us to the client's home. We all met and exchanged pleasantries and proceeded to discuss some trellises that were to be made for the entrance walkway. We then went to the indoor swimming pool room where I saw the panels. What a magnificent sight! I recognized right away that these were very special pieces. Delicately forged intricate ironwork. Could it be Yellin's work? Maybe it was the work of Otto Schmerler of Germany. The client told me the history of the pieces as well as he could remember. He was sure that they came from Philadelphia. The pieces had been in the client's house for many years and had been moved to the pool room only a few months before. The swimming pool chlorine in the atmosphere of the closed room had caused the iron panels to become heavily rusted. We did our busyness and called the care taker and his helper to remove the pieces then we all loaded them into my van. The following day I unloaded the two panels and really began to study them. This is incredible work. I carefully removed some of the rust with a 3-M type product. I took lots of pictures. I e-mailed some of the pictures to Clare Yellin, granddaughter of Samuel Yellin. Clare runs Samuel Yellin Metalworks in Philadelphia and I figured that if anyone could identify these panels, she could. She was very sure that this was her grandfather's work and we discussed the proper ways of refinishing this delicate antique pieces. (sandblasting & thick zinc chromate are not an option) With a little more cleaning I found the proof that I had hoped for. SAMUEL YELLIN stamped in the corner of each panel. I have temporarily put the job on hold while Clare contacts the client to see if they want the royal treatment for these rare treasures which would be to ship them to Philadelphia for 'proper' refinishing.

I know that it's loading slowly, but the pictures are worth the wait.

The panels in Yellin's shop in 1930

The same panels in my shop 2002



BACK to MagicHammer